Don’t let the detractors convince you otherwise: brunch is still the best meal of the week. It’s a time when friends and family can come together, usually on a weekend (weekday brunch? Even better!), to gather, eat, drink and generally be merry. There’s no need to rush to school or work. If you’re looking for a spot to grab French toast, a ridiculously garnished Bloody Mary or something more unique, here’s InsideHook’s list of the best brunches in Chicago right now.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better brunch place that has excellent food and is well-situated for a theatrical matinee than State and Lake, named for the intersection. Led by Charlie Trotter mentee Michael Taus, the gastropub provides a culinary experience that aims to be big and bold, just like the Chicago Theatre sign nearby. With warm, rich interiors and locally sourced and hearty fare, State and Lake offers memorable drinks like the Ultimate Chicago Bloody Mary that is topped with mini Chicago dog, mini Italian beef, giardiniera and a shot of Malört. On football Sundays, they also offer up a special brunch including Chicken Tenders Taylor’s Version, in honor of the real NFL dream team.
Old Irving Park
Recently voted the nation’s best cidery in USA Today‘s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, Eris Brewery deserves accolades for its cider and beer, certainly, but also its food offerings. Their brewpub’s brunch menu includes decadent offerings like the cinnamon sugar soft pretzel with cream cheese mascarpone, Pork Belly Sunrise Sando and chilaquiles. Make sure to pair these with one of their delicious hard ciders, like the tart Pedestrian or the Van Van Mojo, which combines hops and blueberry. During brunch, Eris also offers Blush Champagne, which is a Champagne version of one of their ciders, as well as a hard cider mimosa called Mimosa for the People. It’s located in a former Masonic Temple turned Korean church, before becoming Chicago’s first woman-owned cidery and brewery.
Logan Square might have some of the best-known brunch places, but the Duplex takes the meal to a new level. Headed by Le’Qoinne Rice, the Duplex’s menu changes things up by working with different chefs every six months. For brunch, you can get Nashville or spicy BBQ wings, biscuits and gravy, as well as mouthwatering (and punny) “Henny-Thing is Possible French Toast” with Hennessy syrup. That’s not including their cocktail selection, which naturally features bottomless mimosas. To top it all off, there’s also a live DJ — which pairs well with Hennessy syrup.
The 20 Best Record Stores in Chicago Right NowThe vinyl revival isn’t going anywhere. Here’s where to build your collection.
Beatrix has topped the many lists of Chicago’s best restaurants for several years. As such, it’s no surprise that their brunch is on point, offering classic dishes like avocado toast and breakfast burritos, but also more interesting fare like shakshouka and a deep-dish quiche. There are several vegetarian and vegan options, as well as a variety of fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails. If you’re not in the Fulton Market area, there are several other locations around the city including the Loop, River North, Streeterville and Oak Brook.
Here’s one of the few places that offers brunch almost all week long (except Monday). Situated in boutique SOPHY Hotel, Mesler is a sleek restaurant offering New American fare. The brunch menu pivots from shrimp and grits to lobster rolls to even bagels and lox. But the meal isn’t complete without a drink, and Mesler has a great selection of cocktails, wine, beer and mocktails; several cocktails reference the Hyde Park area, such as the 53rd Old Fashioned and the Lakeshore White Negroni. After brunch, since you’re in the area, head over to the DuSable Black History Museum or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House.
Since it’s Chicago, you’ve got to consider brunch with a view. Located on the 13th floor of the Chicago Athletic Club, Cindy’s brings together exquisite food and extraordinary views of Millennium Park and the lakefront. There’s even a terrace for dining al fresco with fire pits to keep it hopping in the winter. The menu features wonderful fresh, seasonal fare including seafood. For something lighter, consider the oysters on the half shell and smoked salmon; for something heartier, try the chicken and waffles with bourbon butter, maple syrup and hot honey. Before you think about the food, though, make sure you get a reservation.
The Duck Inn has received many accolades since opening in 2014. The Chicago Tribune named Kevin Hickey Chef of the Year in 2015; the next year, they named Beverage Director Brandon Phillips Bartender of the Year. Located in a pre-prohibition bar, the Duck Inn provides a decadent Sunday brunch that spans strawberry and cream French toast, rotisserie duck hash and their famous Chicago-style Duck Inn Dog. How can you resist a place with a side dish named for Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson, which includes applewood smoked bacon, duck bacon, maple pork sausage and longganisa homemade spam?
This restaurant is the brainchild of Barry Sorkin, with partners Mike McDermott, Al Sherman and Chris Hendrickson of Smoque BBQ. Sorkin wanted to create a new steakhouse, one that didn’t break the bank every time you dined. Smoque Steak has added Sunday brunch where you can get steak and eggs, breakfast burritos, as well as the lemon-berry or banana-brittle French toast for the folks who have more of a sweet tooth. If you decide to try and replicate new dishes at home, there’s a market and butcher on-site.
The highly-lauded Big Jones brings Southern cuisine to Andersonville. Executive Chef Paul Fehribach has been an eight-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef in the Great Lakes, and you’ll quickly see why. The restaurant has been named one of the best in the city for its fried chicken, so at the top of your list should be the Nashville Hot Chicken Breakfast Sandwich. They also offer a variety of griddle cakes from Dutch apple to Cajun pancakes, beignets and catfish.
Celebrating 15 years, Mercadito is committed to making Mexican food from scratch and from the freshest ingredients. Notably, they hand-make their tortillas, which is truly manna from heaven. Brunch offerings include huevos ahogados (with an option to add brisket or lobster), enchiladas and French toast with cajeta and fresh berries. If you’re a tequila fan, there are over 75 bottles to choose from.
108 W. Kinzie St.
This article was featured in the InsideHook Chicago newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Windy City.